The NAO application process is made up of three stages: the application, the first interview and the assessment centre. This article will help you maximise your chances of overcoming the first hurdle- the application form.
The application form gives you the opportunity to prove that you possess the key competencies necessary to perform in the role. You need to be able to:
- Analyse data to draw conclusions.
- Demonstrate sound judgement skills.
- Demonstrate initiative, enthusiasm and drive.
On the form, you will need to give an example of a time when you have delivered each competency. These examples can come from your studies, work experience or any of your hobbies and interests.
In order to demonstrate your data analysis skills, you must show that you are able to process large quantities of data, spot patterns and present information in an easy to understand, concise manner. This is most likely to come from your academic work; for example, perhaps you had to collect and analyse data as part of your dissertation, or scientific project?
To show your ability to make sound judgement calls, you must be able to understand what is important, and what is trivial- making decisions based on evidence rather than expectations. Use an example of when you made a judgement call based on evidence, and emphasise the effect that your decision had.
Initiative, enthusiasm and drive
To emphasise these competencies, perhaps you could talk about how you persisted with a difficult task and came up with a solution, against the odds. For example, maybe you won funding for a university society, or came up with a unique way of boosting an event’s attendance.
The rest of the form
After the key competency questions, you will be asked why you have chosen to apply for the role at the NAO. This question focuses on both the role and the organisation, so make sure that you talk about both. Reading through some value for money reports may also help to give you a good idea about their work and its impact. If you have met the firm at an event, this would be a good time to mention something that you learned there. This area also provides a good chance to show off some knowledge of current affairs, many NAO affairs are often referenced in the media.
It is important that you are comfortable with all of your answers, as they may come up at interview. Writing an application form can be a daunting process, as this is the first impression you will make, so take your time, and make sure you check it through.
With these top tips, hopefully your application can really stand out. It could be your first step towards gaining a graduate role at the NAO.
Best of luck!